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Monday, June 11, 2012

ConCon the Dino (Pattern and Tutorial)

This year I have made a commitment to making as many of the gifts that I give by hand. Not only are we saving a ton of money doing this, but the gifts mean so much more! I love being creative with what I make for my family and friends and I hope they are enjoying them. I made this awesomely cute dinosaur for my nephew's first birthday. I can't believe how great it turned out! 

It really is a simple project, I made it in about three hours (may have taken less time if I had some clue about what I was doing.) I dare you to take this project on!

I have to apologize, I don't have any process photos because I made this gift last minute and I didn't take the time to photograph the steps. I do plan on making another dino for my son and I will take process photos then and get them up here for clarity's sake. 

ConCon the Dino Tutorial
What you will need:
  • 1/4 yard or 1 fat quater of quilting cotton (body)
  • 1/4 yard or 1 fat quater of quilting cotton (underbelly)
  • 1/4 yard or 1 fat quater of quilting cotton (plates ruffle)
  • Poly craft and pillow stuffing
  • The Usual Stuff (sewing machine, hand sewing needle, fabric scissors, paper scissors, straight pins, matching thread, pencil, paper, tape)
Print out the pattern pages on full sheets of printer paper (8.5x11). Line up the pattern pieces and tape along the tape lines. Tape on both sides of the paper. Cut out the pattern pieces with paper scissors. 

Pin the pattern pieces (body and underbelly) in place on your fabric and cut them out. For the plates ruffle, cut three strips that are 3"x23".

Stitch the three plates ruffle pieces together. Place the right sides together and stitch along the short ends using a 1/4" seam allowance. You will end up with a long strip of fabric. 

Now fold the long strip of fabric together, long ways and right sides out, press and pin. Stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance, or serge. I found it easier to serge, because then I wasn't dealing with fraying edges, but if you don't have a serger don't worry about it.

Stitch two gathering stitches along the bottom edge of the ruffle. (A gathering stitch is just the longest stitch that your machine will do, usually a 5 or 6. You stitch two lines of these very long stitches about 3/8" apart, do not backstitch. There is a really gathering stitch tutorial here.)

Pull the gathering stitches slowly and gently moving the fabric along the stitches so that the ruffle is formed. It will be very full. 

Sandwich the ruffle between the two body pieces, starting at the curve where the neck becomes the back. Pin the ruffle in place all along the back of the dinosaur's back and tail. About 5" from the tip of the tail, slop the ruffle down so that it gets shorter as the tail gets thinner. 

Using a basting stitch (a very wide stitch length and no back stitching), stitch along the top half of the body using 1/2" seam allowance. Turn the body right sides out and make sure the ruffle looks good and it is evenly ruffled all along the body. 

Turn inside out again. Pin the rest of the body together, from under the neck and around the head to the whole tail. Make sure that the ruffle is stuffed inside and will not get caught by the stitching on the underside of the tail. Pin the underbelly in place, it should reach from the mid-neck to the mid-tail and be pinned to the feet.

Stitch all around the dinosaur using 1/2" seam allowance. Leave about 2" at one of the underbelly sides for turning. Again be careful not to catch the ruffle (I did this, thats why I'm being so pushy about it.)

Turn the dinosaur right sides out and make sure everything is stitched properly (the ruffle isn't caught). If everything turned out alright, turn the dino back insides out and trim the seams to about 1/4" and clip the corners. If something is messed up, this is your chance to fix it before you cut your seam allowance.  

Turn the dino right sides out and poke out your corners. I usually use a dull pencil point or the point of my scissors, but you really shouldn't use these items for this purpose, because there is a chance you would poke a hole in your corner. They make point turners that are specifically for this purpose, I should get one.

Stuff the dino until it is a full as you like. Stitch the turning hole closed using a whip stitch (easier)  or a ladder stitch (a little more time consuming, but looks nicer.)

There you go! A sweet little dino ready to be loved. 

I hope you enjoy making a dino of your own. 
Let me know if you make one, I would love to see what you come up with!


Here are the patterns:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hey Jude! IKEA Hack Lamp (with tutorial)

My theory with names like Charlie Brown (my parent's neighbor), Josh Hartnett (a friend from college), Harry Potter (read an article about a baby with this name), is that you have to either HATE it or EMBRACE it. My sister, Annie, is always getting renditions of "The sun will come out tomorrow!" crooned to her. So, when we named our son Jude, we knew he would be sung to pretty much his whole life. At least he gets a great song by a great band. My hope is that he will embrace his "theme song" and not hate the Beatles just because.

In the spirit of embracing the name Jude, I decided that he needed a little Hey Jude in his room. One of  my favorite lines from that song is "Take a sad song and make it better..." How much more inspiring can you get? You have the power to change your world. Take a sad song and make it better. Alter your life and make it something you love and that is worth living to the fullest.  If my son takes anything away from Hey Jude, I hope it is this sentiment. 

With that in mind, I took my favorite Hey Jude line and hacked an IKEA lamp shade. I had been playing around with the idea of hacking this lamp shade for a while. I love the vines and flowers, but it looked a little plain for my style and especially for a little boys nursery. I thought about stenciling the lyrics to the whole song. I considered tapping out some words and painting the whole lamp shade, removing the tapped on letters and have a negative space sort of thing going on. I finally settled on stitching the lyrics to the "Take a sad song and make it better" line. I love how it turned out! Kind of a homemade-chic look, not too perfect, with lots of love.

Hey Jude! IKEA Hack Lamp Shade Tutorial
What you will need:
  • IKEA lamp shade (pretty much any lamp shade will work)
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Embroidery wax
  • Thumb tack/push pin
  • Scrap paper
  • Tape
  • Fabric snips and regular paper scissors
How to:

Cut scraps of paper about 3" tall and long enough to wrap around the base of the shade. (You can type up the letters on your computer and print them of you prefer, just play with the size of the font til you get something you are happy with.)

Tape the paper pieces together so they make one long banner. Wrap the banner around the base of your shade and tape in place. You will need to fold and snip the paper so that it fits nicely.

Using your push pin to make the pilot holes in the shade. Puncture the shade along the lines of the letters about 1/8" apart.  This took me a while and it was really hard on my fingers, but I made a fresh pot of coffee and watched a movie.

Using the back stitch method, (see this video for instructions), stitch your letters using your pilot holes as a guide. Sometimes the thread gets stuck on the plastic of the shade, if this happens run your thread along the wax to grease it up.  To make the dot on i's, a period or an ellipsis (...), use a french knot (see this video for instructions).

Thats it! Hang your new awesome shade on a lamp stand, add a light bulb (or lamp as we say in the theatre world) and enjoy the inspiration! Take a sad song and make it better!

This is a really simple project, it really doesn't take very long and makes a big statement. Try it out and let me know how it goes. I would LOVE to see what you come up with!